1. Using Chaucer's Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, describe the rising middle class of fourteenth-century England. In the essay, include the variety of occupations, the degree of wealth, the level of education, and the beginnings of political power represented among the pilgrims.
2. Contrast a corrupt clergyman from the Prologue with the Parson.
3. Select three characters from the Prologue whom Chaucer seems to be satirizing (i.e., the Wife of Bath, the Summoner, the Prioress). Using some direct quotations, explain the satire.
The Knight's Tale
1. Explain the features of this tale which characterize it as a romance.
2. An "anachronism" is a literary "slip" in which the author inserts something into a work which could not have happened or which could not have existed at the time the work is set. Explain the anachronism in The Knight's Tale.
The Miller's Tale
1. Contrast The Knight's Tale with The Miller's Tale.
2. Fully describe the character Absalom.
The Reeve's Tale
1. Explain how The Miller's Tale and The Reeve's Tale might be said to reveal a situation that medieval men really deplored and dreaded.
2. What might surprise the modern reader about the language surrounding sexual activity in The Miller's and The Reeve's Tales?
The Man of Law's Tale
1. Describe what commentary about marriage seems to be made through this tale.
2. Name one element of the story that is drawn from each of the narrative types that Chaucer utilized for this tale.
The Shipman's Tale
1. Of the six tales told thus far, including the Cook's fragment, four have been fabliaux. What is the significance of the large number of fabliaux?
2. Discuss the two contrasting...
(The entire section is 799 words.)
Later on, the Miller’s Tale tells a rather lustful and vulgar story of a Carpenter and his wife who deceives her husband with a clerk. Overall, the loathsome and vulgar character of the Miller surpasses the aversion of other characters from The Canterbury Tales. The Miller’s Tale effectively illustrates the lecherous personality of the Miller who narrates a lewd story of a carpenter named, John and his wife, Alisoun. John, who works as a carpenter rents out a room of his house to a student named Nicholas. Another clerk named Absolon is also there in town who later falls in love with Alisoun. The story exhibits a high degree of deception where Alisoun becomes involved with Nicholas as well as Absolon at the same time while her husband leaves town for a few days. At another occasion, Nicholas fools John of a deluge of the same intensity as that of Noah’s time. John climbs into a basket to save himself from the flood while Nicholas and Alisoun are spending time together in their bed. At the same time, Absolon arrives and brands Nicholas upon which he cries “Water!” (Chaucer 3815). Upon hearing this, John cuts the rope to his basket and falls down. The townspeople arrive at the scene and laugh at John. The whole story of the carpenter’s wife, Alisoun cheating her husband by having an affair with two younger men at the same time represents an indecent and boorish side to the personality of the Miller. Thus, this example suggests the lecherous internal character of the Miller apart from his already obnoxious physical outlook. The Miller is a character possessed not only by a vile internal nature but also an outrageous physical character. The detail regarding the Miller’s activities and interests build on to his strong and physical personality. In the prologue, Chaucer introduces its readers to the Miller’s most regular practice of wrestling where he always wins the ram (548). His ability to break doors with his head (Chaucer 550-551) and the wrestling matches he has won demonstrate his strong physical capabilities adding on to his huge and disgusting outlook. Further details of his appearance reveal his unappealing outward image that makes him an ugly individual. The descriptions of ugly features including his red beard, huge physique, wart with tufts of hair, and huge dark nostrils display a repulsive character that conjures up horrific images in the mind of the readers. As a person closely observes the explanation of the Miller’s personality, it is not hard to picture a disgusting character with repulsive features that is dishonest and vulgar by nature. During his conversation with the Host prior to the narration of his tale, he announces that he is drunk and that he should be forgiven in case he says anything wrong. When he goes on to tell his tale, his story points out the immoral side of wives. The Miller’s huge personality along with his red beard and hairy wart represent a coarse side to the character of the Miller who although has a large physique but little intelligence. Apart from the Miller’s rude and ribald inclinations, he is also a dishonest man in his business. The Miller is not only a lustful and physically disgusting character, but also a dishonest man who tricks his customers by stealing corn or getting them to pay more (Chaucer 562). With the huge ...Show more